Brandon Kempf: Three Games – Gen Con 2019

I have a lot of games. A lot of games that are on my shelves, or on my table being played, that I have told myself that I want to review at some point. For one reason or another, this doesn’t always happen. My goal here on The Opinionated Gamers is that I want to get about one review out per week, but I’d like to write about more games. So I’m taking a page out of Patrick Brennan’s playbook, and we’re going to start writing about games in threes, in snapshot form. This should be a good way for readers to get to know me and my gaming tastes a bit better, and also another way for me to talk about games that I maybe don’t really want to dedicate two thousand words to. Welcome to Three Games.

I did this one a bit differently, these are the three games from Gen Con that I have pre-ordered, using that wonderful new Pre-Order system from BGG, and have someone picking up for me. That certain someone already has a Gen Con List on this very site, so I was going through and trying to find games that A: appeal to me and I think are worth plunking down MSRP for, and B: games that the certain someone else has not picked for his list and would hopefully be willing to play. 

Little Town

I haven’t had a lot of luck with games from the Japanese or Korean market. They always sound far more interesting on paper to me than they translate to on the table. Part of it I think has to be the minimalist aesthetic that so many of them have. Little Town, or Little Town Builders, is one of those games that I was horribly interested in, and it even wasn’t as minimalistic in appearance as many others, but I just never hunted it down. Well along comes Iello and they decide to make Little Town their own, complete with that Iello feel and I’m on board. 

It’s basically just a little city building game where you are placing workers out to claim resources and to activate buildings that have been built over the little town. If it plays half as nicely as it looks, I won’t have any complaints about adding this to the rotation with the family.


We’ll just call this one, “W. Eric Martin strikes again”. 

Last year, one of my favorites from Gen con was a little game called Lost Cities Rivals and it was on my radar because I love Lost Cities and all its iterations, but also because a certain someone was raving about it prior to Gen Con. Low and behold, Eric taught us the game, I loved it and the rest is history. Fast forward to this year, and this is his suggestion and after reading the summary, I can definitely see why. 

It’s a Wonderland themed hand management, set collection game where what you play influences how everything is scored. Hats collected score points based on where they are in the “Tea Table Board”, ie where you exchange cards. It just sounds delightful and screams must play. 


What’s this? Another import only game being brought over by a North American publisher? Yup, it sure is. A two or three player only one at that. In passtally players are creating routes to move their player marker and they will score tally points based on how many tiles you pass through & also based on how tall they are. This is kind of a 3d puzzle so to speak as you are going to be building paths higher and moving your player piece around the outside edge to get moved across the board. 

passtally has all the makings of a great abstract for us, but I do have a bit of worry about the amount of thinking that this may cause. I am not 100% sold on this being a good game for 45 minutes to an hour, but I could definitely see it being a great game at 30 minutes or so. 

Those are my Three Games – Gen Con 2019 edition. One note, I spent a lot of time perusing BoardGameGeek, asking around the OG and talking to friends about what they are excited about at Gen Con this year, and while there are things to get excited about, this really seems like a lackluster year for releases, at least from my viewpoint. Chris picked ten titles out, I don’t think I could manage that. There are some that are off my list and I am still somewhat excited about, but I will end up waiting till others review them, or they hit retail. Games like Black Angel & Era Medieval Age, which seemed locks for me four or five months ago, suddenly don’t look that interesting to me, or have given me pause enough to wait it out. Cartographers, Copenhagen & Ragusa are already ordered and on the way for me. Nine Tiles Panic, Old West Empresario & Villagers are already here. I know it’s been a thing for awhile now, but this year really seems like the year of the demo, hopefully these demos pan out and next year at Gen Con, we see a pick up of quality titles. But who knows. If anyone plays Dawnshade, report back to me, that’s probably my most interested game at Gen Con this year, and it’s a demo only title. 

Thoughts from the Opinionated Gamers

James Nathan: I played passtally a number of times at HeavyCon in 2018 when Rand was able to have games shipped directly from Tokyo Game Market to the convention, and it was delightful.  What I felt then is that it’s a wonderful game to play at a casual convention because other people’s turns give you a chance to chat with folks, get a snack, run to the restroom, crash the photo booth in the hallway, etc. For a regular game night, or amidst a flurry of new releases, I fear it is too “slow” of a game to earn our patience.  I stand by my theory that it may be best played by mail, and I would like to try that.

Little Town and Hats match up well with my “most anticipated” games from Gen Con too.  (For some reason I’ve never gotten around to picking up or trying Little Town Builders, despite loving King of Frontier so much.)

Van Ryder’s Detective: City of Angels would probably be at the top of my list, but I have it sitting at home.  I won’t be reviewing it, as I feel like I did too much playtesting to take the lead on that, but it was my favorite game I played in 2016, and the production is stunning.

The other titles I have listed that I want to check out (given that I’m not checking out any heavier titles as I’ll only be there for one day and don’t find the environment conducive to such things), is Team3 (an asymmetric cooperative puzzle game with limited communication, from Brain Games); The Dead Eye (a solo card game with 3D [as in, you’ll need glasses] components, from Pleasant Company Games; demo only); Time Chase (a trick-taking game about which not much is known, but I’m curious how it compares to the recently released Time Palatrix, from Renegade); and Runestones (a game Martin Wallace is demoing that uses mahjong tiles in some sort of asymmetric dudes-on-a-map way).

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3 Responses to Brandon Kempf: Three Games – Gen Con 2019

  1. Pingback: Brandon Kempf: Three Games – Gen Con 2019 – Herman Watts

  2. Jacob Lee says:

    I like the three game format but I appreciate it more as a review. It doesn’t take much to get me interested in a game but it helps when someone is speaking from experience with it.

    • Brandon Kempf says:

      Understood, and that’s what 99% of these Three Games posts will be. I just wanted to touch on three Gen Con releases that may fly under the radar. Plus it does give everyone a bit of insight into me as a gamer.

      Thank you for the feedback, and for reading!

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